Today Emma Grace and I went to the Children’s Museum for the first time because Emma Grace has not been doing very well with anyone outside of Mommy or Daddy lately. The interesting thing about Emma Grace’s shyness is that she actually LOVES attention. When people are at our house she is loud, happy and always entertaining. She doesn’t like when people are doing anything but paying attention to her performance. However, as soon as we go somewhere else she clings to me and won’t even look at other people. I originally thought this was some strange combination of extrovert from me and introvert from Shane. Today at the museum it dawned on me this is 100% from me.
Many of you think of me as talkative and friendly at best, opinionated and obnoxious at worst, but almost none of you would classify me as shy. On the other hand every single person who knows my husband would immediately classify him as shy. What most of you would be surprised to know is that when we meet new people together he is more talkative, natural and friendly than I am. You read that correctly. If you asked Shane and I which one of us is more shy we would both definitively answer me. You see I can be A LOT to take. I am sarcastic, opinionated, loud and desperately craving attention. I am very aware of my personality, which I guess in some ways is good. The problem is my self awareness produces a crippling insecurity when it comes to meeting new people. I have no idea how to be a toned down me. I don’t want to be a non-toned down me because it probably is not very endearing if you don’t already know that I am the best shoulder to cry on you will ever meet. As a true extrovert I desperately need social interaction, which makes me terrified of scaring people away. As a result when I meet a new person I am quiet and awkward for fear that if I am me they will not want to be my friend. Obviously if I am silent and totally awkward it isn’t any better, but I can’t seem to figure out how to be anything else.
Today at the Children’s Museum there were tons of moms and nannies with small toddlers. Many of the women sat on benches watching their toddlers play together. I sat in a corner in front of a toy bin with Emma Grace on my lap clinging to me for dear life. This is not an odd scene when it comes to my life. I have gone to various social events alone and ended up sitting by myself not speaking to anyone. The problem today was that now my insecurity was affecting my daughter. I have read many places that your child takes cues from you. If mom is relaxed and happy then baby is more likely to be relaxed and happy. If mom is sitting in the corner with a worried face and a tense body then baby will probably not be the most comfortable. After about 30 minutes of this lonely girls in the corner thing, I saw a friend of mine from church. Emma Grace and I went over to play with my friend and the boys she watches. It took Emma Grace a little time, but she gradually grew more relaxed and got down to play. It was clear that mommy relaxing helped Emma Grace relax.
So what do I do about this other than put another item on the ‘reasons I am ruining my child’ list? Honestly I am not totally sure how to work on this, but I know that Emma Grace really enjoyed her morning once she wasn’t so scared. I guess that if I want her to work on socializing that means I am going to have to do a little work myself. I know that I never want Emma Grace to be terrified of talking to new people the way I am, so I am going to work on it. I want to be a Mom that stands firm in her identity in Christ, not a mom that is paralyzed because of finding her identity in what other people think. I know that I can’t do this overnight, but hopefully with God’s help Emma Grace and I will get out of our own little corner and into the middle of the playroom.